Tony Dow, starred as Wally on ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ dies at 77

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“Leave It To Beaver” actor Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver in the popular sitcom, died Tuesday at 77.

Dow’s manager Frank Bilotta confirmed in an email to USA TODAY Tuesday that the actor died of cancer.

“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” said a statement from Bilotta and Renee James, Dow’s management team, posted on Dow’s Facebook page Tuesday.

“Tony was a beautiful soul kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him,” they added.

“The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us. From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally — thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and for the feeling that you were a big brother to us all,” the post said.

On the hit sitcom, which aired on CBS and then ABC from 1957-63, Wally was the older son of Ward and June, a straighter contrast to the quirkier main character of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). A popular jock, Wally was also ensnared in the schemes of his friend, the mischievous and smooth-talking Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond).

The news comes less than three months after the actor and and his wife, Lauren Shulkind put out a joint statement sharing the “very sad news” of his cancer diagnosis, though they didn’t disclose details of the disease.

“Dear Friends & Fans of Tony Dow, I have some very sad news to share with you. Unfortunately, Tony has once again been diagnosed with cancer. He is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking,” the joint statement read.

Dow’s “Leave It To Beaver” co-star Mathers updated fans on Dow’s cancer battle Thursday, asking for “prayers and healing.”

“He appreciates your concern and good wishes, and it has certainly been a great help in lifting his spirits!” he wrote.

Mathers attached an update from Dow’s team, which said his illness had been a “rollercoaster of ups and downs” with Dow “in and out of the hospital with various complications and treatments.”

The actor and director has been public about previous health struggles. In August he was hospitalized with pneumonia, Bilotta confirmed at the time.

Dowlater reprised his role as Wally in a “Beaver” spinoff from 1983 to 1989. He also directed several episodes of 1993’s “Babylon 5” along with 1999 episodes of “Crusade” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

The actor, born Anthony Lee Dow, has starred in an array of television series as a child and was involved in A Minor Consideration, a non-profit foundation to provide support for child actors.

In 2017, Dow reflected on his acting career and celebrated “Leave It To Beaver” ‘s 60th anniversary in an interview with the Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network.

“It’s nice to be remembered any way you can, so I have accomplished that,” Dow said at the time. “I’m much more appreciative of the show. I was not unappreciative, but I was always a little rebellious.”

Dow’s friends in the industry paid tribute to the actor on social media, also remembering him as an artist and carpenter.

TV producer Jim Michaels shared in a post, “I will miss my friend Tony Dow- an amazingly kind person, talented director, actor, wood craftsman and artist. I smile whenever I think of him and his loving wife Lauren. I loved golfing with him and his preferred barefoot approach to golf shoes!”

Wrestler Jerry Lawler shared wishes that Dow would rest peacefully. “Man, so sad to hear that a life-long TV favorite of mine, Tony Dow, Wally from ‘Leave It To Beaver’ just passed away. R.I.P. Wally”

Actor Alan Tudyk praised Dow’s carpentry skills in a tweet: “Tony Dow built the beach house I lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles to shoot Firefly,” he posted. “Hell of a carpenter.”

Contributing: Elise Brisco, Jenna Ryu, Erin Jensen